(University of Victoria/Instagram)

Life at the University of Victoria campus is set to be very different this year.

As the first semester back during the COVID-19 pandemic, students are faced with unprecedented challenges, including online classes, lack of study spaces, and diminished social opportunities.

See also: One arrested after police disperse large parties at UVic and surrounding area Friday night

Many of the factors that make university life special are gone, and working from home can be frustrating at best and isolating at worst.

We spoke to Swapnil Daxini, a graduate student at the university, who is currently doing part-online, part-on campus studies. While most of his classes are online, Daxini does need to attend the campus in-person to continue his research studies.

When asked about the immediate changes, Daxini explained that all students in his department are encouraged to wear a mask and that there is currently a max occupancy for each room.

“It seems people are adhering,” he said.

UVic is also offering free, branded masks to each on-campus student as long as they are able and willing to show their student ID cards at the University Centre. Any student moving into on-campus residence will also receive a free mask, with or without an ID card.

“I did get to walk around some of the buildings and it is definitely different,” Daxini added. “There are fewer people, as you may expect ,and lots of signage to ensure social distancing is maintained.”

When asked about his expectations for the upcoming year, Daxini said he hopes that the University decides to stay open “to allow [us] to continue research on campus.”

However he says his heart goes out to those international students who will be missing a year of their on-campus education, for which they are paying a high price .

“I am hoping that as the semester continues, that the university can offer some more services that allow social connections,” he said.

Daxini agrees with UVic’s decision to move all spring classes to online as well.

“As much as it is inconvenient, it is the right thing to do. The pandemic is not going away anytime soon. I think it is good that they have decided this early on to give instructors more time to create a course suitable for online learning.”

But not all students are having such luck with the transition.

One student on the UVic sub-Reddit, expressed their frustrations.

“I’ve had my first bunch of classes, obviously all online. They are so uninspiring, and certainly not worth what we’re paying for them!” they wrote.

Like other universities across Canada, moving all classes online has not coincided with a decrease in tuition rates.

Another student posted to the sub-Reddit, concerned about the lack of organization in their classes.

“It’s the day before class starts and I haven’t heard anything about 2 of my 4 classes this term. The pages aren’t up on Brightspace or CourseSpaces. I have a 9:30 a.m. class and I’m worried that not even a Zoom link has been posted,” they explained.

While this transition may be a tough one, it looks like students will just have to do their best to adapt to at least a full school year, as classes have been moved online for the Spring semester as well.

Students are encouraged to reach out to the University’s mental health resources if they are having trouble adapting or feeling isolated with the new changes.